You don’t have to look too far around you to find ‘can’t change, won’t change’ people, they’re everywhere, hiding behind phrases like “I am fully open to change, but if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.” I have been looking at this paradox recently and have been trying to understand it.
According to professor John L. Ward, the more successful our past set of rules are, the more resistant we are to changing them. In addition the more involved one was in creating the status quo, the more resistant one becomes to changing it. But perhaps it is more realistic to say ‘the more involved one was in creating the status quo, the more determined one becomes to defend it’?
And yet change resistance is logical, after all no one likes spending a morning preparing and polishing an important email just to have it hacked to pieces by the person you asked to ‘quickly check it for typo’s’. The root of the problem is not so much in our resistance to change but in our inability to see the need for it in the first place.
When a tidal wave comes roaring in from the sea, even the most change resistant turn and run. The need is obvious, there is no room or time to defend, discuss or debate. From this we can obviously conclude that vision is the essential element here and that vision comes from a combination of observation and anticipation. Keeping one’s eyes focused on the horizon and not on the sand under one’s feet.
Furthermore, something does not need to be broken in order to improve it. We all like to hang on to our tried and tested ways, to the reliable tools of our past. Our old television may not be broken, but when the broadcaster stops sending signals it recognizes, it is effectively dead, even if its components are all still working. For this reason, I am going to be careful from now on with using the phrase ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’.
Being a source of inspiration to others, being a leader is about anticipation. It is understanding the importance of discerning subtle changes and patterns and adapting to the new emerging environment long, long before it becomes too late.
Have a good week,